In the First World War Manfred von Richthofen was the scourge of the sky and the terror on your tail in a dog fight.
Although the demise of the Red Baron on April 21,1918 over France is somewhat controversial there is definitely a Penticton connection.
Julia Trefry is the niece of Canadian Capt. Roy Brown who is believed by many to have fired the bullet which struck Richthofen forcing him to land and eventually claiming his life.
While she knew that both Roy and his brother Horace were in the war she didn’t learn about Roy’s claim to fame until later in life.
“I found out that he shot down Baron von Richthofen and uncle Roy had about 12 victories and I think the Baron had 82 victories,” said Julia, who now lives in Penticton with her husband Dick. “Unfortunately I never did get a chance to meet him but they’ve got a new monument for him in Carleton Place (Ontario) where he was born.
“It really is exciting and wonderful and somehow I feel important, but I’m not the important one, but it makes me feel good.”
Julia always gets a kick from people’s reactions when she tells them it was her uncle who ended the Red Baron’s path of destruction.
Her father Howard, who died several years ago at the age of 97, wrote a book about his brother and described him as athletic although Roy never spoke much about his military career even in his letters home during the fighting.
Brown died in 1944 at the age of 50. His niece is not sure what caused his death but believes it likely had to do with the many injuries he suffered during the war.
“He got hurt quite badly during those years,” said Trefry.
Historic reports indicate Richthofen was pursuing another young Canadian pilot in a Sopwith Camel at a low altitude when Brown intervened.
Brown reportedly did a steep dive towards the two aircraft, firing at the Baron repeatedly before having to pull up sharply to avoid hitting the ground.
Trefry has attended Remembrance Day services since she was a child and still goes as often as she can with her husband.
“It’s important for people to attend the services so they can remember things like what my uncle Roy did and so they never forget the people in the war, that they gave their lives for us,” she said.